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Where To Turn: Breast Cancer Support, Meals, Rides, Wigs, Buddies

In honor of Awareness Month, we've compiled a list of local support groups, services and workshops.

One in eight American women -- and 1 in 1,000 American men -- will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives with an estimated 2 million people diagnosed each year.

While breast cancer is difficult to navigate alone — for both patients and their loved ones -- support networks can help.

“Support groups are really beneficial,” said Debra Somers Copit, an Albert Einstein Medical Center physician and advisor to the not-for-profit Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

"It can be helpful to have someone to turn to and learn from who has gone through the same thing.”

Groups offer emotional support, and can help patients feel less depressed and reduce physical pain, according to a 2001 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

To help in the battle, local resources and support groups abound, including the following:

  • Recurrence Diagnosis Group: For women experiencing a second diagnosis with support in a relaxed, confidential environment. Call San Jose-based Bay Area Breast Cancer Network to register (408) 261-1425. Meetings are the first and third Tuesdays 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. every month.  
  • Survivor Transition Group: through San Jose-based BABCN.Meets the second Tuesday each month 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Register by calling (408) 261-1425.
  • Chinese-speaking Breast Cancer Support Group: meets every other month. Next meeting Oct. 13, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 701 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View. Free. To confirm location/schedule, call (510) 797-0600. 
  • Marzel's, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, sells breast protheses, compression garments, wigs, headwear. Takes insurance. Make house calls, if needed. Call (925) 939-2450 for Walnut Creek; (925) 277-1402 for Pleasanton. 
  • Valley Rags & Wigs: San Ramon Road, Dublin, (925) 829-3333. Wigs and headwear.  
  • Patient Advocate Foundation: national non-profit serves as liaison between patients and insurers, employers and/or creditors. Call (888) 879-4210. 
  • Breast Self-Exam Instruction: Palo Alto Medical Foundation educators in Dublin, Fremont and Palo Alto provide individual self-exam instruction in English and Spanish. For information in Dublin, call (925) 875-6150; in Fremont (510) 623-2231; Palo Alto (650) 614-3200.

Patients who aren’t fans of group settings can turn to technology. It’s hard to duplicate in-person support, but the recently launched breast cancer-specific, social-networking MyBreastCancerTeam comes close.

And while the Internet is useful, Copit worries online forums spread misinformation and suggests patients tap such groups as Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which offers a confidential helpline.

The highly regarded LBCC addresses "the what happens next" phase for survivors, said Debra Mitchell, Pleasanton designer and founder of Twisted Silver Jewelry.

LBCC's mission and success is why Mitchell selected that particular not-for-profit as the designated recipient of proceeds from her "Living Beyond Bracelet." 

Individuals can contact LBCC at (888) 753-5222.

Have we missed any area breast-cancer support groups or services? Let us know in the comments section.

Writer Dana Leigh Smith contributed to this article.


Ashley October 10, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Is there a possible drive for donating ones hair?
David Mills October 11, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Hi, Ashley... here are a couple links for hair donation... http://www.locksoflove.org/donate.html http://www.pantene.com/en-US/beautiful-lengths-cause/pages/about-beautiful-lengths.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=D_SN_B_Beautiful+Lengths+Cause_Broad_11.12&utm_term=locks%20of%20love&utm_content=sLjTmiNnH|pcrid|11914339955|b|locks%20of%20love

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